Startup and shutdown problems aren't usually related – if your PC doesn't shutdown properly it tends to be annoying, but on the other hand a start up problem can lock you out of Windows XP completely, which could be cause for panic !
Fear not, however because armed with the right troubleshooting techniques you can get back into windows without putting your data at risk, plus discover how to go about fixing shutdown problems.
Cant boot, wont boot
Not all boot problems are catastrophic, but the most pressing concern is when windows is unable to start successfully. you may find it reaches a certain point in the process before inexplicably restarting, or it may throw up a blue screen with a STOP error on it.
Either way it’s bad news. When you first restart after encountering an error like this, Windows will throw up a boot menu that’s designed to help you get around the problem. It will apologize for not loading successfully and give you a number of options to choose from.
If Windows fails to start successfully, the boot menu gives you more startup options.
It may seem silly, but the first you do is choose “Start Windows Normally”. Sometimes a glitch that prevented you from loading Windows can resolve itself. so the next time you boot it’s gone. If this is the case, breathe a sigh of relief, but be wary: the problem may resurface or be indicative of something else.
The next option to try is “Last Known Good Configuration”. This restores the settings that enabled Windows to boot successfully last time, and in most cases will fix your problem. If you installed any hardware or software, or made changes to the way programs run or behave, you’ll find these have been lost. However, as the most recent changes to your system are likely to have caused the problem, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Try installing the program or piece of hardware again – if the problem persists, visit the manufacturers web site for more help and support.
Safe mode fixes
If “Last Known Good Configuration” doesn’t work, then try booting into Safe Mode. You’ll see there are three choices: basic Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, and Safe Mode with Command Prompt. All three load only a basic set of drivers and services, plus no start-up programs are loaded, so in most cases you will at least be able to access your PC in this mode.
If you choose the Networking option and you’re physically connected to your network by an Ethernet cable, you’ll have access to the Internet if you connect through your network (as well as the network itself).
If you can get into Safe Mode, log on as either your own user account or the master Administrator account. You’ll then have a number of options to try. If you suspect a virus or similar piece of malicious software, you may be able to manually run your security tool and see if it can detect and remove the problem.
You can also launch System Restore from safe mode. Launch System Restore by clicking Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.
System Restore may offer a quick and easy solution to your start-up woes
If you can’t even get into Safe Mode, try Safe Mode with Command Prompt. This bypasses the basic Safe Mode interface to give you access to just the command prompt itself. If this works, launch System Restore using the following command: %systemroot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe Once done make sure “Restore my computer to an earlier time” is selected before clicking Next. Choose the most recent Restore point and see if that eradicates the problem; if necessary reboot into Safe Mode and try earlier Restore points until you find one that works. Be warned: the further you go back , the more unrecognizable your system will be after the Restore has been performed: your data will be untouched, but programs, hardware, updates and settings installed since that Restore Point will either stop working or vanish completely from your system.
Wont boot at all
In the worst case scenario you wont be able to boot into any flavor of Windows at all, even safe mode. When this happens there are two symptoms that point to a corrupt Registry: first your PC continually restarts when you try to start it regardless of the option you choose in the Boot menu. If your PC doesn't automatically reboot, you’ll get a STOP error referring to the Registry or a missing or corrupt file.
In these circumstances your only course of action is to recover your system manually. You could attempt a repair installation of Windows following the step by step guide below – if your PC came with a recovery disc, try booting from that and looking for a repair or non-destructive option (if no option exists, do not proceed – a full destructive system recovery will wipe all of your personal files and settings).
The upside is that you should be able to boot into Windows again; the downside is that all of your updates – including any service packs you’ve applied – will have been removed. Not only will you need to visit Windows update to download them all again , but you may also need to reinstall some of your programs again in order for them to work properly.
1. Boot from Windows CD
If you have a genuine Windows installation CD, reboot with it inserted, and press any key when prompted to. Let setup load the initial files, then press enter at the welcome screen.
2. Choose to repair Windows
Accept the license agreement by pressing F8, then wait. When asked if you would like to repair Windows, make sure your current installation is selected before clicking R. Windows will now delete a load of files.
3. Let Windows repair itself
The rest of the process is identical to what happens when Windows installs from scratch.
If you can’t get your PC to even recognize your hard drive – you’ll get a boot failure message appear before Windows even begins to load – then you may have a dead drive to deal with. If the drive has been making funny noises recently, this is the likely scenario, and the downside is that your data is now inaccessible unless your willing to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to a data recovery specialists to get it back.
Sometimes drive cables can become loose, so it’s worth opening up your case and making sure everything's securely plugged in before assuming the worst.
memory is another problem that can manifest itself in start-up problems. If you suspect memory is the cause of your problems download the free diagnostic tool on a working PC from http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp – you can then transfer this to a floppy disk or CD, and boot from it on your malfunctioning PC. It’ll then test your memory and report any problems it finds.
Faulty memory should be replaced as soon as it’s been spotted. If you have more than one memory stick in your PC, try different combinations of memory in conjunction with the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool to track down the faulty module.
If all else fails – you’ve recovered your data, determined there's no hardware issues, but still can’t get Windows to boot again – then bite the bullet and reinstall Windows XP from scratch.
Fix shutdown problems
Most Shutdown problems have been fixed by updates available through Automatic Updates (click Start, right click My Computer and select properties, Control Panel, then switch to the Automatic Updates tab). If your PC is fully up to date, but you still encounter shutdown problems, read on.
If your PC restarts instead of shutting down, then the likely culprit is a STOP error, By default Windows is set to restart when it encounters one of these, but if it’s preventing you from shutting down you need to take matters into your own hands.
First, force Windows to display the STOP error instead of restarting: open the System Properties Control Panel, switch to the Advanced tab, click Settings under “Startup and Recovery” and untick Automatically restart before clicking OK twice. When you next shutdown Windows, the STOP error should pop up. Make a note of it, and then visit http://www.aumha.org/a/stop.htm for more advice.
If your PC hangs during shutdown – in other words, it reaches a certain point in the process and then just stops for five minutes or more without powering down or displaying an “it’s safe to turn off your computer” message – then the problem could be caused by a program or process currently running on your PC. When your ready to shut down, try to end as many running programs as possible, including those that have icons in the notification area in the taskbar. If Windows can now shut down, you’ve traced the culprit to one of these programs.
If this doesn’t work, try running a diagnostic startup as described earlier and then immediately shut down. If Windows is able to do so, then something that starts with Windows and runs in the background is to blame. Once identified using the same techniques described for troublesome start-up entries, uninstall the program or look for an update or additional help at it’s website.
If this doesn’t work but your able to access Task Manager (press Ctrl+Alt+Del), then try ending individual processes from the Processes tab. Make a note of any processes that refuse to disappear, and do a search on Google to find out more about that process when you next start Windows. If all else fails at this point, and you have access to the shutdown menu try turn off computer from this menu.
Shutdown problems are numerous, and while non critical in the sense that you’re able to run Windows again afterwards, may be indicative of deeper problems with your system. For additional shutdown advice visit
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